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Zimbabwe's Tsvangirai Says Power-Sharing Talks On Hold Pending Mediation

Zimbabwe's power-sharing process has stalled and requires intervention by African leaders, Movement for Democratic Change founding president and prime minister-designate Morgan Tsvangirai said on Thursday, though he said he has not given up on the possibility of working with President Robert Mugabe to form a national unity government.

Tsvangirai said he has appealed to the Southern African Development Community and the African Union to provide mediation, most likely by former South African president Thabo Mbeki, who mediated the discussions that led to the power-sharing agreement.

It remained to be seen if Mr. Mugabe's ZANU-PF would bow to pressure to call Mbeki back in. The longtime ruling party has been insisting mediation is not needed.

Harare correspondent Thomas Chiripasi reported that Tsvangirai said little progress has been made since the power sharing deal was signed on Sept. 15.

Contacted by VOA, Labor Minister Nicholas Goche declined to comment on the declaration from Tsvangirai that the talks must be suspended until Mbeki steps in. Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, ZANU-PF’s chief negotiator, could not be reached.

But diplomatic pressure was mounting on Harare to form a unity government.

Sources said Zimbabwe topped the agenda on Thursday when SADC Executive Secretary Tomaz Salamao met with South African President Kgalema Motlanthe.

They said Salamao wanted Motlanthe to firmly commit his government to providing Mbeki with all the support he needs to mediate the stalled process in Harare.

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband warned that the positive momentum of Sept. 15 is evaporating, saying British targeted sanctions on Mr. Mugabe and his inner circle will not be lifted before there is a credible power-sharing government in place.

Salamao told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that his meeting with Motlanthe was to brief him on a range of issues as SADC’s new chairman.

Political science lecturer Joseph Kurebwa of the University of Zimbabwe told reporter Zulu that Tsvangirai’s move to call a pause in the talks was premature.

Political analyst Peter Kagwanja, head of the Africa Policy Institute in Pretoria, said that the announcement by Tsvangirai that he was suspending talks until mediation was arranged showed the fundamental limitations of the power-sharing agreement.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...